Four Tips for Clearing Out Your Broken and Meaningless Metrics

Chances are good that, if you’ve been measuring your results for awhile, then your reports contain at least a few broken, meaningless metrics that just aren’t helping your program anymore. Maybe they’re old, outdated, or obsolete. Maybe you’ve been trying to measure activities with data and metrics that are easily available but don’t really measure what you want them to. In any case, your measurement is weighed down by the baggage.

Sound familiar? Here are several approaches to dealing with your broken or meaningless metrics:

1. Rethink what you’re measuring.

A very, very good start is to step back and rethink what you are measuring. (You should be doing this every year or so anyway.) This approach works particularly well if you have a new boss or CEO. Explain that you’ve decided you want to measure your performance against actual business objectives, so you’re revamping your monthly or quarterly reports to reflect your impact on business goals.

This approach can be difficult if there are lots of people invested in the old data; even if it is useless, it’s what they are familiar with. You might have to do a little work to make sure everyone agrees on what that impact is. But trust me, everyone will be happier to see five meaningful metrics, as opposed to 105 numbers that no one knows what to do with.

2. Just drop the most meaningless metrics.

Are you doing monthly reports that include multiple metrics of dubious value just because they’ve always been there? Try leaving off some of the least useful metrics and see if anyone notices. If they’re important, then you can always add them back in. But if no one misses them, then banish them to the trash heap of history.

3. Stop with the charts and numbers; focus on providing insight.

What matters to your leadership team is what insight your data can bring that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your department. So, spend less time worrying about dashboards and complicated calculations, and spend more time looking at the data and drawing useful conclusions.  And spend even more time discussing the results and learning from the failures. If you can illustrate your conclusions with some nice charts, great. But spend your time on the insight, not the graphics.

4. If you have time or budget for only one system, then use Google Analytics.

Data is easy to come by, but more difficult to organize, analyze, and draw insight from. It may be that you just don’t have the time or budget to survey regularly, or pull data from your media monitoring, or  your social listening system, or whatever other systems you have.

Here’s a simple and elegant solution. Agree with your bosses that to be more efficient and effective you’re only going to use Google Analytics. It’s free, there’s lots of great tutorials on how to set it up, dashboards are included, and once it’s set up, it’s a breeze to generate reports. (See my video on how to set up goal conversions in Google Analytics. It’s easy.) ∞

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